Down at my core, I have always been partial to laser printers. In high school, the family had an HP LaserJet 4. To say that thing was a tank was a massive understatement. It printed volumes of paper and never really skipped a beat. Term papers, science projects, tax returns – whatever we threw at it, it handled it with ease.
In college I got wooed into an HP inkjet printer because it had color. While the color was nice, the printed photographs were not that great. Great photographs at the time required a really expensive printer which this college student didn’t have the money for. The ink on regular paper would always smear, wick into the paper, or become totally unrecognizable when wet. On top of that, cartridges were expensive. After several bad experiences with inkjet printers in college (yes I know that was the stone age when years began with 19), I resolved to never buy another inkjet printer again.
After college I went back to the LaserJet 6L. I gave up color but the reliability factor was well worth losing the ability to print colorful images. Text was crisp again and held up over time. I loved the fact it had two paper feeds. I forget the name of it, but I could put a film on top of the paper and the heat from the fuser in the printer would bind the shine of the film onto the paper for mirrored text. It was cool stuff. That printer handled all sorts of paper sizes, paper thicknesses, and envelopes!
After the LaserJet 6L started to pull paper into the machine at an angle, it was again time for a new printer.
I settled in on the HP CP-1510. It printed text crisply, had color, and was cost-effective to purchase. The big surprise though was how quickly the cartridges expired and the cost of replacement toner. I didn’t print that often but after the color in the toner no longer lined up I used it for a number of years as a black-and-white printer. Oftentimes I’d have to reprint as I’d lose the setting for black-and-white in the software and it would print a garbled mess of color.
I asked a number of my friends what kind of printer they would recommend and I got strange looks equating to “why do you need to buy a printer in the digital age?” Mainly I need to print return labels for Amazon packages, forms I need to fill out on paper, and address labels for the Christmas cards I send every year. Every so often I need to scan a physical document and send it off as a PDF. I was hoping my new printer could do that as well.
This time around a color laser printers wouldn’t fit in the closet I keep my printer. Also, the printer and the cartridges for a color laser were more than I wanted to spend. Inkjets for photographs have come a long way in the past 20 years generating near lab quality prints (with some work). When I saw the Epson EcoTank 4760 didn’t require proprietary cartridges, I was in! Large, refillable reservoirs seemed to be the right thing environmentally as well as cost wise for the consumer.
Set up for the printer was tedious but not difficult. Mostly it required aligning the printheads which were generally in good order from the factory. Filling the reservoirs was equally simple. What surprised me most was how much I loved my printer. I mean, who loves a printer? I wish I could have bought this printer five years ago.
There are several things I really appreciate about this printer:
- It has Wi-Fi which means it can participate with every other device on my network.
- I can print from my phone or tablet which makes working remotely significantly easier.
- The cost of replacement ink is not exorbitant so I feel like I can print freely
- It prints photographs really well right out of Lightroom (with the driver and paper type configured)
But what really speaks to me about this printer is that printing is easy – especially photographs. Making photographs easy to print makes photographs easy to share. I love putting photographs on my fridge and swapping out pictures in frames.
I can easily print a photo and attach it to a thank you card. My printer helps me enjoy my life with others more easily. That’s huge. The only thing I wished it had was a manual paper feed. Printing on special paper means pulling out all of the regular paper in the printer every time.
ProTip: I’ve printed a few photographs on Epson’s Ultra Glossy and a few on Kirkland Signature (Costco)’s and have not noticed a huge difference in on 5×7 prints. For now my money is on Costco!
For prints that I’m really going to mount and preserve right, my favorite lab is Mpix. They’ve always delivered top notch prints and color reproduction from Lightroom.